Victorian London - Publications - Etiquette and Advice Manuals - Dinners and Diners, by Lieut.-Col. Newnham-Davis, 1899 - Chapter 23 - The Berkeley (Piccadilly)

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THE white-faced house with gilded balconies that stands at the corner of Berkeley Street and Piccadilly is an old friend with a new face, for in the year of grace ‘97 the old hotel was much altered, the restaurant almost doubled in size, and the Berkeley may now, in its latest development, be said to be the blonde beauty among London hotels.
The Editor invited me to dinner, a little dinner for three, the Gracious Lady, himself, and myself—the handsome niece who completed the partie carrée on a previous occasion was at her cottage in the country and was reported to be accomplishing wonderful feats of cookery with her chafing-dish—and suggested that I should interview Jules as to the menu.
When I sent in word to Jules that I should like to see him, I had plenty of employment, during the few moments I was kept waiting, in looking at the new ante-room to the right of the entrance-hall, a very handsome apartment, with old gold as the dominating colour everywhere. [-163-] First, there came to me Emile, the maitre d’hôtel whom I remember of old at the Bristol. M. Jules would not keep me waiting a moment, he said; and even as he spoke M. Jules, in frock-coat, with a little sheaf of papers in his hand, came in. “The Editor is coming to dine here to-morrow night, and wants a little dinner for three,” I began, and M. Jules selected one of the papers from his sheaf and handed it to me. He had heard in some way of the Editorial advent, and had put his suggestions as to a little dinner upon paper. They ran as follows:-

Melon Cantaloup.
Crème d’or.
Truite froide au court bouillon. Sauce verte.
Caneton Nantais à la Drexel.
Selle de pré-salé rôtie aux legumes.
Petits pois à la Française.
Salade à la  St-James.
Ananas glacé Sibérienne.
Corbeille de petits fours.
Croustade Victoria.

I read the menu down, and when I came to the caneton à la Drexel I paused, and looked inter­rogatively at M. Jules. “It is new,” he said “it will be the second time that I have served it”; and I thought how honours were reserved for editors which are not given to simple correspondents. I should not wonder if some day Jules actually named a dish after the Editor.
The Gracious Lady and the Editor arrived on the stroke of eight—punctuality is the preliminary courtesy to a good dinner—and there [-164-] was M. Jules waiting to show us to the very best table in the dining-room, the table by the corner window which looks out to the Green Park across the road. Emile was there also, smiling, and a waiter, with a thin line of gold edging his collar, placed the slices of iced melon before us as we sat down.
M. Jules regretted that we had not dined at the Berkeley the night before, for it had been an evening on which the restaurant had been full of interesting people—so full, indeed, that a noble lord who had given a dinner party in honour of a prima donna could only be accom­modated with a table in the ante-room. We did not altogether share in Jules’s regret, for we might have had to dine in the passage, and look­ing round at the diners at the other tables we came to the conclusion that though there were no lords, so far as we knew, nor prima donnas among them, they were, on the whole, a very smart and good-looking set. A pretty little grass widow was being entertained by a young soldier—we invented quite a Kiplingesque story about the pair; a rector up for the Oxford and Cambridge match was having his last dinner in town before he went down to his country parson­age again; two ladies going on to the opera were dining by themselves—the Berkeley is a place where ladies can dine and lunch without an escort; two gentlemen, who from their speech were Australian—Colonial Premiers the Gracious Lady called them—were giving a dinner to two very smart ladies ; there was another lady with six men at her table, all of whom she was keeping [-165-] amused ; there was a pretty girl, with hair of the sheen of copper and a great spray of roses, dining tête-â-tête with a bored-looking man with a bald head (un mariage de convenance was the Gracious Lady’s decision) ; and there was a family party commanded by a stern lady with spectacles.
“Very good soup indeed,” said the Editor, as he laid down his spoon, and Jules, who was within hearing, smiled as if the wish of his life had been accomplished, while Emile beamed as if he had come in for a fortune.
And indeed it would have been difficult, if we had been in a fault-finding mood, to have discovered the slightest matter to carp at in either room or dinner. The room, with its light oaken boarding, topped by a deep red frieze, its tall fireplaces with blue tiles, its white ceiling ornamented with strange devices, somewhat resembling Whistler’s butterfly signature, its wooden pillars and beams, its clusters of electric lights and revolving fans, is a perfect banqueting-room. Our table, gay with orchids and with sweet peas strewn in the shape of a heart, and lighted by electric globes held by a stand of wrought iron, was the best in the room, as I have written above, and nowhere in England or abroad could we have been given a better dinner. Indeed, from my point of view, it was too good a dinner, for there was no weak spot in it to fasten a criticism on. The trout, in a silver boat cased in ice and ornamented with paper­paddles and a flag at bow and stern, was delicious, and Jules, with enthusiasm, described its cooking: [-166-] the white wine, the pepper, the little drop of vinegar, the method of cooling.
But the dish of the evening was the caneton a la Drexel. No great bird of Rouen, but a delicate little fellow from Nantes was this duck, the breast cut into fillets and the inside full of a glorious mixture in which foie gras played a leading rôle. “It is the second time only that I have served it,” said Jules again, when we complimented him; and we all fully appreciated the great honour that was being paid.
The salade St-James, of hearts of lettuce, tomatoes, and French beans, pleased the Gracious Lady much, and she told us to notice how the beans absorbed the flavour of the tomatoes. The ice made its appearance as a pineapple with something which looked like a bridal veil over it, and with a base of transparent ice fashioned to represent a snake among leaves. Inside the pineapple was the ice. The snake set the Editor a-telling tales of the gorgeous East. “The biggest snake I ever saw,” he began, “was killed in my house at Allahabad under the ice-box.” I glanced across to the Gracious Lady, who sat unmoved, apparently used to the Editor’s snake stories. I glanced at the jug of hock cup, but the Editor had only had his fair share. Then I clenched my teeth and settled down to listen, for one has to stand anything, even snake stories, from one’s Editor.
The dinner ended, the coffee and old brandy absorbed by the Editor and myself, a long cigar, which he said was very good, placed in the Editor’s mouth, and one of Savory’s cigarettes [-167-] in mine, a passion for exploring came upon us, and, with Jules as guide, we set off on a tour of the basement, the Gracious Lady holding up her skirts out of the way of the sawdust with which the floors were strewn. We went through the beautifully clean kitchen, lustrous with white tiles, over which M. Herpin holds sway, through the pantry with its glass-fronted cupboards, through the cool rooms where the meat and fowls are stored, and through the bakery where three batches of bread are baked each day. We reascended, and then the Editor, who was going on to a theatre, paid the bill :—Three dinners at 10s. 6d., £1:11:6; two hock cups, 16s.; three cafés, 2s. 3d. ; liqueurs, 2s. ; cigars, 1s.; total, £2: 12: 9.
12th July.

*** I am bound to say that I think that the Editor was let off very lightly in his bill; but then editors are always better treated than the ordinary everyday man. M. Jules has been kindness itself in noting for me the dishes that are specialities of the Berkeley, indicating their construction in all cases, and in most giving complete recettes. If in some cases the English of the lady who assisted me by translating the recettes has quailed before some of the technical terms, I trust that she and I may be excused, for the French of the haute cuisine requires some equivalent in English which our barbarous tongue does not possess.
These are some of the specialities of the Berkeley — Poule au pot à la Française, Crème d’or, Petites marmites à la Russe, Truite en gondole au court bouillon, sauce verte, suprême de sole Alice— a very dainty [-168-] dish named after M. Jules’s little daughter—selle d’agneau de Pauillac aux primeurs, homard à l’Américaine, noisette d'agneau Berkeley, caneton à la Drexel, poularde Berkeley, salade St-James, asperges vertes à la Milanaise, ananas glacés Sibériennes, soufflé Mercédès (diablé), croustade Victoria, canapés Berkeley.
Herewith the recettes, commencing with

Petite marmite à la Russe

Julienne de legumes composée de carottes, navets, poireaux, oignon, céleri et cboux (braisés selon le règle), rnouillez avec un bon consommé de canard clarifié, ajoutez des morceaux de canard fortement blanchis, faites bouillir doucement pour dépouiller, cuire et amener la petite marmite a un goût parfait. Servir de la crème aigrette en même temps.

A Julienne made with carrots, turnips, greens, leeks, onions, celery. The vegetables should be braised as usual, then moisten them with stock in which there is plenty of duck. Add the pieces of duck, and let it boil gently, so that it can be well skimmed, and the delicious flavour brought out carefully. Serve cream at the same time.

Crème d’Or

D’un fond de sale a volaille faites une velouté bien dépouillé, et le tenir leger; lier avec une beurre de homard, le passer crème  et beurre extra fin pour finir, le goûter (il dolt être de haut goût comme le bisque), garnissez d’une Royal au beurre de homard et huîtres fraîchement pochées, et leur cuisson.

Stock made with sole and poultry, rich and smooth to the taste. Skim very lightly, and mix with lobster butter, cream, and a little fresh butter. Pass it [-169-] through a silk sieve, taste it, and garnish it with a royale made with lobster butter, oysters freshly stewed and their own liquor.

Truite en gondolier à la Monseigneur

Pocher au vin du Rhin avec légumes et aromates, dresser dans une gondolier assez large pour contenir la garniture suivante: oeufs pochés glacés, petites truffes, pommes au naturel, grosses quenelles, crevettes piquées sur la truite même, bouquet de queues de crevettes, champignons tournés, écrevisses dressées; tenir le tout très chaud, glacez la truite et la garniture, saucez à part une sauce genevoise faite avec le fond du poisson.

Stew the fish in Rhine wine, with vegetables and spices, arrange in a gondolier large enough to hold the following garnish poached eggs glazed, little truffles, boiled apples, large quenelles, prawns (piquées sur la truite même). Flavour with shrimps’ tails and mushrooms, and arrange crayfish on it. Keep it all very hot. Glaze the trout and the garnish. Serve separately a Genevoise sauce, made with the liquor in which the trout were cooked.

Selle d’agneau de Pauillac aux primeurs

Selle d’agneau de lait rôtie et garnie de légumes nouveaux.

Saddle of lamb (young), roasted and garnished with young vegetables.

Homard à l’Américaine

Homard vivant, découpé; les pattes cassées, sautées au beurre clarifié flambé au cognac, éteint au vin blanc (très sec), réduire et ajoutez échalotte, civette, une verre de vin blanc, tomates concassées, persie, sel, poivre [-170-] frais moulu, piment haché très fin, une pointe de cayenne, trois cuillerées de sauce tomato, demi litre de fond (thim et lauriers), moitié poissons et moitié veau. Cuire pendant vingt-et-cinq minutes, sortez les morceaux de homard en les dressant, et rendez le plat aussi élégant que possible. Réduisez la sauce, liez au dernier moment, avec de corail gardé à cru, et manier avec beunre de homard, civette bachée, un petit morceau de glace de viande. Goutez avant de servir.

Alive lobster, cut up; the claws cracked and fried (sauté) in clarified butter. Boil down, and add shallot, chives, a glass of white wine, crushed to­matoes, parsley, salt, pepper (freshly ground), all­spice chopped very fine, a pinch of cayenne, three teaspoonfuls of tomato sauce, a little less than a pint of stock, thyme and laurel leaves, the stock to be made partly with fish and partly with veal. Cook for twenty-five minutes, take out the pieces of lobster, arrange them and make the dish look as elegant as possible. Boil down the sauce, and add at the last minute, with the uncooked coral of the lobster, mixed with lobster butter, chopped chives and a little piece of meat glaze. Taste before serving.

Poularde à la Berkeley

(Pour une jolie poularde)

Deux cents grammes de riz Caroline revenu au beurre mouillé au fond blanc, assaisonnez de ban goût (bouquet garni) ; cuire dix-huit minutes, alors le riz doit se trouver à sec; le lier avec un velouté reduit et legèrement monté à la crème, une peu de glace de viande; ajoutoz gros dés de truffe et foie gras. Vider la poularde par le haut, l’assaisonner et la farcir du riz  [-171-] déjà préparé, brider soigneusement pour éviter que la poularde garde une jolie forme, la citroner, la barder et la rouler dans une petite serviette. Cuisez à grand fond blanc quarante-cinq à cinquante minutes, finissez de cuire en la laissant pochor dans le cuisson. Débarassez de la serviette, la barde, dressez sur une plat rond orné d'une bordure en pain du Argent du Nouilly, saucez suprême et envoyez une saucière de sauce à part.

    A young fowl, drawn, well - seasoned, garnished with Carolina rice ; place the rice in butter, with a little water, so that it is covered to twice its height. Cook seventeen or eighteen minutes, add some glaze and cream, and let it cool. Add fob gras and truffles cut in large dice, or in quarters, mix well with the rice, and season with salt and pepper freshly ground. It should be well seasoned. Stuff the fowls with this preparation, tying them up very securely. Cover the birds with thin strips of bacon, and flavour with lemon. Wrap them in little serviettes. Cook in good white stock for forty-five minutes, and let them finish stewing in their own liquor. Take off the cloths and the bacon, and arrange the birds on a round dish, avec couronne, pour over them a good “sauce supreme,” and serve the rest of the sauce separately.

Caneton à la Drexel

Bridé en entrée, le passer de cinq à huit minutes à four vif pour rafermir les chairs, enlever la poitrine, et bien parer ha carcasse, l’assaisonner, la remplir d’un appareil à soufflé de canard à cru, ganni en abondance de gros quartiers de truffes et foie gras de façon à reformer le canard on y ajoutant la poitrine enlevée; cuir3 vingt-cinq minutes, découpez les aiguillettes du caneton; et servez avec le propre fond, dégraissé et [-171-] réduit au madère et porto; legèrement lié avec un peu de demi-glace garnissez de tranches de citron.

Place the duckling in a quick oven for from five to eight minutes, to make the flesh firm. Take off the breast, clean the inside well, season it, fill it with a soufflé preparation garnished with truffles cut in quarters and foie gras. In order to give the duckling its original form put back the breast. Cook for twenty-five minutes. Cut the duckling in slices, and serve with its own stock and a little Madeira and port.

Ananas glacé Sibérienne

Ananas frais, enlevez la tête, videz l’auanas à l’aide d’une cuillère, mettez au rafraichissoir, d’autre part avec les chairs de l’ananas faites une glace ananas kirsch et marasquin, remplissez b’ananas, ajoutez la tête comme couvert, servez sur un rocher de gbace, et garni de fleurs naturels.

Take a fresh pineapple, remove the crown. Clear out the fruit with the help of a spoon, and put it in the refrigerator ; then with the flesh of the pineapple make a pineapple ice with kirsch and maraschino. Fill up the pineapple again, replace the head as a cover, serve it on a block of ice, and ornament it with natural flowers.

Rocher de mandarines glacées

Dressez sur une socle en glace, videz les mandarines, faites une glace avec l’intérieur, regarnissez les mandarines et bien dressez sur le socle.

Arrange on a block of ice. Take out the insides [-173-] of the mandarin oranges, make them into an ice- cream. Put back the insides again into the oranges, and arrange upon the block of ice.

Soufflé diablé à la Mercédès

Un soufflé glacé au parmesan avec laitance d’harengs à l’intérieur garnie de petites lames de truffes, passer au four.

A soufflé glazed with Parmesan cheese, with the soft roes of herrings in the inside, garnished with little slices of truffle, baked in the oven.

Timbale Parisienne

Pâté à brioches levé dans des moules à Charlotte cuite, regarnir de la pâté intérieur, en réservant le couvercle, que l’on glace à la glace Royale, et décore aux fruits de clemont (ou confis) ; d’un autre côté vous cassanez vos timbales au sucre coloré de couleurs ardentes. Coupez des fruits frais tel que ananas, points, bananes, abricots, muscat, cerises, mettes ces fruits dans une sauce abricots au kirsch et marasquin, chauffez bien et remplissez vos timbales, servez sans faire attendre la timbale.

Pâté à brioches (puff pastry?), baked in Charlotte moulds. Remove the paste from the inside, leaving a lid, which must be glazed with "Royale" jelly, and decorated aux fruits de clemont, or preserved fruits. Sugar over your timbales on the other side with coloured sugar, choosing very brilliant colours. [-174-] Cut up some fresh fruits, such as pineapples, pears, bananas, apricots, cherries, and grapes. Put these ruits into an apricot sauce, with kirsch and maraschino. Heat well, and fill your timbales. Serve without any delay.